Ask Christa Miller her secret to having a great marriage, three lovely children and a thriving career and she’ll give it to you straight: “It’s sleep!”she says, laughing. “I nap!” While sneaking in a few winks sounds like a good idea for any modern mom, clearly, Christa is being modest.
When she is not appearing as bitchier-than-thou Jordan Sullivan on Scrubs, the long-running NBC hospital comedy created by her husband Bill Lawrence, or performing mommy duties for Charlotte, 7, William, 4 and 11-month-old Henry, Christa is also the unofficial music supervisor of Scrubs, an in-demand actor, and a great friend to her vivacious group of working mom buddies. She talked to Modern Mom about balancing it all.
Modern Mom: What’s your definition of a Modern Mom?
Christa: A modern mom is someone who can organize all the many, many elements of family life, career and marriage and have the stamina to keep it all going.
This summer I was shooting a mini-series, A&E’s Andromeda Strain, based on Michael Crichton’s novel. It meant that I had to be away from my family for a number of weeks. I was offered the lead, opposite Benjamin Bratt, and I told my husband I just couldn’t turn it down. He said, “Don’t worry. We’ll work it out.”
But while I was away, Bill had to take on the things I did at home. He had to wake up and be with the kids in the morning, do a full day at work, and then come home and play with the kids some more. After I got back, he told me, “I never realized this was so exhausting.” He said he really started to appreciate what I do. This is what being a modern mom is about.
Christa Miller and her brood, last year
MM: What’s your secret to balancing career and family?
Christa: I have a great husband who really helps with the kids. On Saturday and Sunday, he lets me sleep in and he takes the kids.
I am also very picky about which jobs I’ll consider. This is not great for my career but it’s great for my kids. We are not a mobile family – my kids are in school. So I know I can’t be away for huge chunks of time. I know that going into a job and that’s important to balancing our family life. Sleep is also a huge priority — it’s what helps me keep it all going!
MM: What do you want to teach your children?
Christa: Kindness, respect toward other people and their choices and lifestyles. I want to teach them to be inclusive, not exclusive, towards other people.
Manners are also high on my list. My kids should always be polite, respect adults and other children. They should be kind to their siblings. I teach them that their siblings are their best friends and that they will always be in each other’s life. There is only ever kindness in our house.
MM: Who do you admire most?
Christa: I admire other moms who work and make it all seem easy. My best friend is a top producer at Fox TV. Our daughters are best friends and they go to the same school. My friend works so much and she is still such a great mom.
I always call her with questions like, “Is tomorrow mandatory uniform day?” and she always knows the answer! She works all the time but she still knows everything. I, on the other hand, am always scribbling things down on scraps of paper. I also have the luxury of having help and it’s still hard for me to balance it all. Other moms don’t have any help and they still make it work.
MM: What’s your favorite family activity?
Christa: Oh, we have so many! We have so much fun when we travel, all of us being together. My kids love being on a plane and checking in to a hotel. My son calls it a “ho-tail,” as if he suddenly acquired an accent. On the weekend, we swim and Henry loves the pool. We also go to the beach in Malibu with our three dogs and our three kids �?? we really feel like one big family there.
MM: What is your greatest achievement?
Christa: I have a great marriage and I am proud that I am able to be so involved with my children and my family. My children are my greatest achievement.
MM: What products can’t you live without?
Christa: I try to stay low maintenance so I can’t live without Laura Mercier’s tinted moisturizer, which I wear instead of base. I love Kiss Me mascara. It never comes off until you wash it off. I have it on all day.
MM: What do you do when you’re feeling selfish?
Christa: Nap! I love to take an hour-long nap around 2pm, whenever I can. I can’t get away for longer than that. I also like to gab on the phone with my girlfriends. The other thing I do is shop online. I tend to be obsessed with buying jeans and t-shirts. Right now, I live in Hudson jeans.
MM: What’s keeping you busy these days?
Christa: I recently wrapped the shooting on the Andromeda Strain. It’s a four-hour mini series that will premiered Memorial Day. I play a doctor and a scientist. It’s drama and my love interest is Benjamin Bratt. So this was something different for me. It was such a great experience. The producer was a mom, too. She arranged the shooting so I never had to be awayfrom my kids for longer than a week at a time. I remember one day I was with my children in the morning and then I hopped a plane for the set in Vancouver. By noon, I was in bed making out with Ben Bratt. That’s what I call a great job!